The Netflix Method and the future of online content

Recently, I’ve been thinking a lot about where online content might be headed. For the past 20 years (or longer?), blog posts have been published one-at-a-time. They seldom have anything in common with the post before, maybe just a general theme or topic. They exist in isolation. They are discovered in isolation.

There’s nothing wrong with this. Blogging has ridden this strategy to become one of the cornerstone mediums of the web, and things will likely keep working the way they always have.

But if you wanted to find an edge, where would that edge be? My guess is that the edge lies in the shifting of consumer behaviors.

Blogs may not have changed much in the past 20 years, but the consumption of media certainly has. Twenty years ago, we lived in a world of schedule and sitcoms. Now we find ourselves with sequels and binging.

Will content follow?

One of my earliest glimpses at the potential of binge-worthy content was Unbounce’s Landing Page Sessions. It was a series of videos all published at once. And it worked brilliantly!

The crossover from Netflix viewing habits to online business video was quite a clear transition. The move has yet to happen with blog content.

But why hasn’t it?

If we want to binge our favorite TV shows, why wouldn’t want to binge our favorite blogs?

I tried out this strategy with a recent project. I’d been testing the waters with some email marketing breakdowns, publishing one or two to my blog. Enough people liked it that I thought I’d do some more. And then I realized: Why not just do all of them all at once?

And so I did. I wrote them all in drafts and then published them altogether on the same day in a Medium publication. I shared the Medium publication to ProductHunt. I emailed my newsletter list. I promoted it as if it were a binge-able Netflix series.

The results are still coming in (I literally published all this hours before I published the blog post you’re reading). But at the very least, publishing blog posts in this way felt fresh and new and dangerous. That combination of feelings is a good one!

What are the caveats of this approach? Well, there are a couple big ones:

  1. You have to validate the content. Netflix guaranteed the popularity of House of Cards before it invested in creating the show. You have to find a way to validate that people want the content you’re about to produce.
  2. You have to put in a lot of work. It takes quite awhile to write 13 blog posts to publish at once! If your blog is dependent on daily content, the Netflix Method will be quite a challenge.

Apart from those hurdles, though, I think the idea has a lot of potential. You’re giving your readers the content that they want, and you’re allowing them to consume it on a timeframe that they choose. That is exactly how the world of media consumption is evolving.

The Netflix Method

A related series of blog posts, all published at once.

Could it work?

Think you’ll try it?

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I lead the marketing team at Buffer, a SaaS tool with a blog of over 1.2M monthly visits. Let me show you how we got there and how we plan to grow.

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